The present lot clearly relates to an early drawing of the same subject at the Narodni Gallery, Prague, which Dwight Miller dates to circa 1690 (see C.D. Miller, Marcantonio Franceschini, Turin, 2001, p. 308, no. 102, illus. p. 309). Furthermore, it is probably the painting registered in c. 33v from the Libro dei Conti: 'Dal Sig.r Gio. Batt. Ferrari Genovese per caparra d’un quadro grande e modelletto del detto dipinto col ritorno dall’Egitto della Vegine, Gesu’ fanciullo, S. Giuseppe et angeli, d’accordo in coppie cento doppie 30, L. 450' (30 December 1704, see C.D. Miller & F. Chiodini, Il libro dei conti di Marcantonio Franceschini, Bologna, 2014, pp. 165-66). The subject matches the above description and the amount of money paid seems correct in relation to the dimensions of our painting.
We are grateful to Dr. Chiodini for his kind assistance in cataloguing this lot and for suggesting the possibility that the picture was executed in collaboration with Luigi Quaini (1643-1717). Former assistant of Guercino, Quaini worked with Franceschini during the beginning of his career, taking part in all his most important large-scale commissions until at least 1712.